Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Finding God in Solitude: The Personal Piety of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and Its Influence on His Pastoral Ministry

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Finding God in Solitude: The Personal Piety of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and Its Influence on His Pastoral Ministry

Article excerpt

Finding God in Solitude: The Personal Piety ofJonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and Its Influence on His Pastoral Ministry. By Donald S. Whitney. (New York: Peter Lang. 2014. Pp. vii, 178. $81.95. ISBN 978-1-4331-2444-0.)

There seems to be an endless supply of books on Jonathan Edwards. Ever since the Harvard historian Perry Miller's 1949 biography of the American minister and theologian, there has been a revived interest in the academy on Edwards, leading to an increasing number of journal articles, dissertations, and published books that appear annually. Edwards has been examined from nearly every possible vantage point, from George Marsden's award-winning Yale University Press biography in 2003 to Gerald McDermott and Michael McClymond's 750-page tome on The Theology ofJonathan Edwards published by Oxford University Press in 2012. In addition to the interest generated by historians and theologians, Edwards has been studied through the lens of psychology, literature, and pastoral experience. With so many books available on Edwards, one has to wonder if there is any aspect on the great American thinker that has not been explored. In Finding God in Solitude, Donald Whitney contends that Edwards's piety has received scant attention from scholars, arguing that the American minister's personal spirituality was the center of his ministry as a pastor and writer.

Whitney's monograph is organized into three main chapters along with a lengthy introduction and conclusion. Much of the first chapter is a rehashing of the biographical details of Edwards's life supplied by Marsden and other historians, including Edwards's conversion experience, his installation as a pastor of the Congregational church in Northampton, Massachusetts, his role as a revivalist during the Great Awakening, his move to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, as a missionarypastor to Native Americans, and his untimely death in 1758 shortly after becoming the president of a college that would later be renamed Princeton University. There are a host of secondary-source quotations of mundane information throughout this initial section that should have been paraphrased, and there is not much in the way of new information or new insight on Edwards's life. …

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